Sydney: After passing the "world-leading" News Media Bargaining Code to make Facebook and Google pay for news content on their platforms, the Australian government has now begun deliberations on the browser domination, putting Apple under the probe too.
Focused on the "choice and competition in internet search and web browsers", the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has released a discussion paper, asking for submissions based on the pre-installed browsers as defaults, reports ZDNet.
In January 2021 in Australia, estimates indicate that Safari was the most used browser on mobile devices (smartphones and tablets), accounting for around 51 per cent of use, followed by Chrome (39 per cent), Samsung Internet (7 per cent) and Mozilla Firefox (less than 1 per cent).
On desktops, Chrome was the most used browser at 62 per cent, followed by Safari (18 per cent), Edge (9 per cent) and Mozilla Firefox (6 per cent).
"In Australia, the ACCC understands that Google Search is the default search engine on Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari and Samsung Internet, and Bing is the default search engine on Edge," the paper read.
According to the commission, pre-installed services and services set as a default can function as barriers to entry and expansion.
"Consumers may stick with a default option on account of imperfect information. For example, consumers may remain with an incumbent search service rather than switch to a new entrant if they do not know whether the incumbent provides a higher quality search service than the new entrant, and substantial information costs would have to be incurred to compare the quality of the two search services," it argued.
For consumers with relatively low level information-technology skills, there may be costs to switching from the default option search service (for example, the time needed to learn how to do so).
In October last year, the US Department of Justice and 11 state Attorneys General filed a civil antitrust lawsuit against Google for allegedly unlawfully maintaining monopolies through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and search advertising markets.
In July 2018, the European Commission (EC) found that Google imposed illegal restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators between 2011 and 2014 to cement its dominant position in general internet search.
The EC fined Google 4.34 billion euros for breaching EU antitrust rules in respect of abuse of a dominant position.
The ACCC said that it is also seeking views on supplier behaviour and trends in search services, browsers, and operating systems.